A 5-step guide on what to do after a car accident


Arrive Alive's 2017 road safety annual report indicates that car crash fatalities remain high, and that road accidents are generally on the rise.

Scary, I know.

Here is a simple five-step guide if you're involved in a collision, and we suggest you keep this information handy by printing and storing it in your car.

1. Stay calm, then call the police

Switch on your hazards, take a few seconds to take in a few deep breaths, then call the police and give your exact location.

If drivers, passengers or pedestrians are injured, advise them that medical help is required.

1st for Women notes that you are required by law to stop your vehicle if you are involved in an accident and commuters and pedestrians are injured or killed or property is damaged. If you fail to stop, it will be considered a criminal offence.  

Read more: Is it fair that women pay less for car insurance?

They further mention that you can also be criminally charged for failing to help someone who has been hurt in an accident you are involved in, even if the accident was not your fault.

2. If possible, move your vehicle

If your vehicle is not heavily damaged and is obstructing traffic, move it to a safe location. However, ensure you photograph the scene – and take close-up shots of damage to the vehicles – before this happens.

3. Do not admit fault

Regardless of who caused the accident, bear in mind that whatever statements you make on the scene could be used against you later on.

Your insurance agent will guide you on the entire process of settling the claim and repairing the damage to your vehicle. For now, you should simply stick to the facts by collecting the relevant information mentioned in the following steps. 

4. Collect information

Contact your insurance agent. They will let you know what information you need to start the claiming process.

Record the facts about the accident so that you can determine whose fault it is and make settling your claim a breeze.

Take note of the make of the car, its model and colour. According to Wheels24, the relevant information and documents you'll require is both parties' full names, ID numbers, addresses, telephone or cell numbers and the vehicle registration numbers.

Also record the time of the accident, road conditions and visibility, and the location (street name and suburb) where the accident occurred.

You'll also need descriptions of the vehicles involved, the details of police and traffic officers that arrive on the scene as well as ambulance, says Wheels24.

This information will be helpful for making a claim against your insurance or against the Road Accident Fund (RAF), or if you want to claim the costs of repairs from the other party.

5. Don't let your car get towed away unless...

...they are authorised by your insurance company to remove your car.

In our previous article we explain that this is because your insurance company may have contracted a preferred repairer and towing service, and vehicles under warranty may usually only be repaired by a panel beater that carries badge approval. 

What to do if you need to claim from the RAF

There are certain criteria you need to meet if you want to claim from the RAF, says Linda Rulashe, senior manager of media and PR at RAF.

To succeed with a claim, a claimant must:

• Prove (fault), i.e. that someone else caused, or contributed, to the accident

• Prove that the other person’s actions were wrongful;

• Prove that injuries were sustained / or that a breadwinner died;

• Prove that the injuries sustained / or death of the breadwinner was as a result of the road accident; and

• Prove the damages claimed was as a result of the injuries / death caused by the road accident.

Read more: Battle of the sexes: Who is angrier on the road?

Rulashe adds that a compliant claim must be lodged within the prescribed lodgment periods, i.e. three years if the wrongdoer’s identity is known, or two years in the case of a hit-and-run claim. 

If the injured person or deceased breadwinner is solely responsible (at fault) for the road accident, they would be excluded from being able to claim. For a full guideline on claiming from the RAF, visit their site.

WATCH: Smarter Driver: Tips for avoiding a rear-end crash

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